It really isn’t in my nature to tackle real serious topics or subjects. When writers start doing that, they tend to become activists, and I actually find those people to be quite boring and extremely misguided after a bit -- usually by their second article. In my long and often vividly colorful life, I haven’t discovered much that I want to really stand up for.
Take the anti-war activists. They haven’t stopped a single war, though by convincing people to not vote for Republicans, they may have avoided a war or two in the next four years. Or, the activists for animals. People just have a natural aversion to eating vegetables all the time. Hence, being an activist doesn’t really accomplish very much.
For this article however, I have decided to become an activist of sorts. You see, I have decided that I am going to commit suicide. That’s right: Going to turn out the lights. And yes, my announcing in a public forum such as this, is, as the mental health professionals would call it, a cry for help. Or, alternatively, a bid for attention. A number of my friends have also agreed to commit suicide as well. We all have a pact to help each other commit suicide. All of us would like to convert others to our way of thinking, and hopefully join us.
The more appropriate term might be “euthanasia.” Literally, that means “good death,” the practice of ending life in a painless manner. It is what we do without hesitation or much more than a second thought for animals that are in pain and are suffering.
A Helena, Montana judge. Dorothy McCarter, recently ruled that a Billings man with terminal cancer, Robert Baxter, has the right to doctor-assisted suicide. According to the judge, “The Montana constitutional rights of individual privacy and human dignity, taken together, encompass the right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity.” Her ruling expanded on that precept by adding that those patients had the right to obtain self-administered medications to hasten death if they find their suffering to be unbearable, and that physicians can prescribe such medication without fear of prosecution.
For the time being, Montana now joins Washington and Oregon as states that allow assisted-suicide. Montana seemingly takes it one step further by stating that patients have the right to obtain the necessary medications to commit suicide without the assistance of a physician.
How, and under what conditions a person dies, should be their own personal decision that cannot be challenged by the government or the next of kin. Everyone has their own threshold of what they can tolerate or bear. For some, it may well be the loss of all independence to the extent that they are 100% reliant on someone else to take care of them. Others may opt for different standards, such as unbearable (to them) pain and discomfort.
The state argued [it] has no evaluation process, safeguards or regulations to provide guidance or oversight for doctor-assisted suicide. The state also said it was premature to declare constitutional rights for a competent, terminally ill patient because the terms “competent” or “terminally ill” had yet to be defined. In other words, the state is saying that it wants to have total control over everyone. Anyone that looks to a bunch of politicians and lawyers for advice cannot be realistically considered to be competent.
The day that I have to rely on someone else to change my adult diapers is the day that I will be willing to “turn out the lights.” I don’t want someone feeding me, just so they can change my diapers later on either. I don’t want to be relegated or parked in a nursing home for the rest of my days.
One of my heros is Jack Kevorkian. In his career, first as a physician, and later as a “death counselor,” Kevorkian assisted at least 130 patients in the process of dying with dignity. He was sentenced to prison for 10 - 25 years in 1999 for second-degree murder for the assistance that he provided to his patients. He was released in 2007 on parole, for good behavior, at the age of 79.
On January 15, 2008, Kevorkian spoke to a crowd of 4,867 people at the University of Florida. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Kevorkian expressed a desire for assisted suicide to be “a medical service” for willing patients. “My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death,” the paper quoted him as saying. “My aim was to end suffering. It’s got to be decriminalized.”
Suicide is a personal matter. People should have the right to make decisions about their final demise without interference by the government or other people. I, and thousands of others have made decisions about our final days or even years. We must remain quiet about it, or the government may step in and try to prevent us from making decisions that we know and believe are rational and competent. The time to think about it and make a decision is while you still can make that decision without having your competency questioned.
The Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization ( ERGO) is a good information resource and provides information about planning ahead if you are so inclined. In some Western countries, it is illegal to access and act upon this type of information.
Kudos to Judge Dorothy McCarter for a brave and what will no doubt be a controversial decision. Best of luck to Robert Baxter. We hope that you fight and that the battle has not been in vain.